Lawmaker wants expanded boater safety training - FOX 13 News

Lawmaker wants expanded boater safety training

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

St. Petersburg State Representative Dwight Dudley wants safety training for anyone who operates a boat in Florida.

Florida leads the nation in boating incidents, with more than 700 boating accidents and 55 fatalities last year.

"Clearly we need to educate boaters," said Rep. Dudley said. "So, I think there ought to be some sort of boater safety course that is mandatory for anybody that steps onto a vessel."

But a similar plan hit a roadblock in the Florida Legislature. Isabel Castellanos pushed for 'Osmany's Law,' a bill named after her son, who died in a south Florida boating accident.

Osmany Castellanos was knocked off a boat in the Miami area in 2007. He was not wearing a life vest, and though there were nearly a dozen people on board, they did not know how to respond to such an emergency.

Isabel Castellanos said they turned around and accidentally ran over him.

"They never turned off engines of boat. And kept going around in circles. I was devastated. I didn't go back to work for a year. I wanted to give up on my life," she said.

Isabel says Osmany's Law was watered down through the process. Instead of phasing in all boat operators, only those born after 1988 are now required to take the class.

She said the changes excluded the boaters involved in her son's tragedy (as well as most boaters involved in crashes and deadly accidents across the state).

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